Understanding Healthcare & Insurance in Denmark (2024)





Peter Simonsen helps foreigners looking to explore life in Denmark. With a wealth of knowledge about the Danish culture and way of life, Peter helps newcomers adjust and thrive in their new environment.

While relocating to a new land brings about its set of challenges, understanding how health services operate shouldn't be one of them. Denmark's healthcare system stands as a testament to the country's commitment to the well-being of all its residents, whether native-born or newly arrived.

This article will serve as your guide, shedding light on the nuances of health insurance and healthcare in Denmark and ensuring that you feel supported and well-informed at every step of your journey in this new country.

Key Takeaways

  • Denmark boasts an accessible and efficient public healthcare system.
  • Enrolling in public healthcare is a streamlined process with the CPR number being pivotal.
  • Private health insurance offers added flexibility and choices beyond public healthcare.
  • Foreigners, depending on their status, have specific considerations within the Danish healthcare system.
  • Seeking medical attention, whether routine or urgent, is well-organized and patient-centric in Denmark.
  • English is widely spoken in the Danish healthcare system, ensuring clear communication for non-Danish speakers.

Understanding the Basics: Denmark's Public Healthcare

Denmark takes immense pride in a healthcare system that is both robust and inclusive, ensuring that everyone residing within its borders has access to quality medical services. To fully appreciate the offerings at your disposal, let’s delve into the foundational aspects of this remarkable system.

First and foremost, the Danish healthcare system is built on the principle of equal access. This means that every resident, regardless of their origin or socioeconomic status, has the right to healthcare services.

Fundamentally, it’s designed with a focus on preventive care and early intervention, aiming to maintain the overall health of the population rather than merely treating illnesses.

healthcare in denmark

Enrolling in Public Healthcare

As you embark on your journey in Denmark, ensuring that you're enrolled in the public healthcare system is crucial. This enrollment not only guarantees your access to world-class healthcare but also assures you of a seamless experience in case of any medical needs. Let’s walk through the steps to ensure that you're adequately covered.

Upon your arrival and once you've obtained your residence permit, the next important step is to register with the Danish Civil Registration System, known locally as the CPR (Central Person Register). This registration is a key gateway to many services in Denmark, and healthcare is no exception.

Shortly after your CPR registration, you will receive your healthcare card, often referred to as the yellow health insurance card or simply "sygesikringskort". This card bears your name, address, and personal identification number. It's essential to carry this card with you at all times, as it's your primary proof of entitlement to healthcare services in Denmark.

Here's how you can make the enrollment process smooth:

Visit the Local Municipality Office: Once you have your residence permit, head to your local municipality office to register in the CPR. Ensure that you have all your essential documents, including your passport and residence permit.

Receiving the Yellow Card: After successful registration, your yellow health insurance card will be mailed to your registered address in Denmark. This typically takes a few weeks.

Choosing a General Practitioner (GP): The card will also detail the name and address of your general practitioner (GP). You have the right to choose your GP in Denmark. If you wish to select a different GP than the one assigned, you can request a change at your local municipality office.

Using the Card: Every time you seek medical services, whether it’s a visit to your GP, a specialist, or a treatment facility, remember to present your yellow card. This ensures that the services are billed directly to the public insurance system, and you won't need to make any direct payments for covered services.

Private Health Insurance in Denmark

Denmark's public healthcare system, renowned for its accessibility and quality, does an outstanding job of catering to the needs of its residents. However, there might be instances where you seek something more tailored or expedited, and this is where private health insurance enters the frame.

Private health insurance in Denmark operates alongside the public system and offers certain advantages that might resonate with individual preferences and needs.

Why Opt for Private Insurance?

While the public healthcare system provides comprehensive care, there are a few reasons why some residents choose a private health insurance plan:

Faster Access to Treatments

Some choose private insurance to potentially reduce waiting times for specific treatments or surgeries.

Wider Choice of Specialists

Having private insurance might provide you with a broader choice of medical professionals or the option to visit specific private hospitals.

Additional Services

Certain treatments or services not covered by public health insurance might be available under a private plan.

Finding the Right Private Insurance Plan

Denmark hosts a range of reliable insurance companies that offer private health insurance packages. When exploring your options:


Start by understanding what different insurers offer, comparing their plans, costs, and the range of services they cover.


Talking to fellow expats or colleagues can provide invaluable insights based on personal experiences. They might offer recommendations or share their journeys in finding the right plan.


Consider booking a consultation with potential insurers. This gives you a chance to ask specific questions and gauge the plan's suitability for your unique needs.

Cost Implications

Naturally, private health insurance comes with a cost. Premiums vary based on the breadth of coverage and any additional services. While assessing, ensure that you're clear about what's included, so you're making an informed investment in your health.

Special Considerations for Foreigners

Living in a new country often comes with a unique set of experiences and challenges. In Denmark, while the healthcare system strives to be uniformly efficient for all, there are certain specific aspects that foreigners, in particular, should be aware of. These nuances can greatly assist in streamlining the healthcare experience for those not originally from Denmark.

Temporary Residents and Tourists

If you're in Denmark for a short period or are visiting as a tourist, your access to healthcare might be different from long-term residents.

Immediate Care

For sudden illnesses or emergencies, anyone can access medical facilities. However, unless covered under a reciprocal agreement, non-residents might be charged for these services.


If you're in Denmark temporarily, it's wise to invest in travel insurance or short-term health coverage to avoid unexpected medical bills.

EU/EEA Citizens

Being a member of the European Union has its perks when it comes to healthcare in Denmark.

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

If you're a citizen of an EU/EEA country, carrying the EHIC ensures that you get medically necessary healthcare at the same conditions and cost as nationals. However, it's important to note that the EHIC isn't a substitute for travel insurance, and it doesn’t cover private healthcare costs or repatriation expenses.

Prolonged Stay

For those planning a more extended stay, registering in the Danish system, just like any other resident, is advisable for comprehensive healthcare access.

Language Proficiency

While Denmark boasts a high rate of English proficiency, especially among medical professionals, there might be occasions where communication seems challenging.

English-speaking Doctors

Many clinics and hospitals have doctors who are fluent in English. If you're concerned about language barriers, you can specifically request to see an English-speaking professional when making an appointment.

Translation Services

In scenarios where specific or detailed medical discussions are necessary, you can opt for medical translation services, ensuring that you fully understand every aspect of your care.

Seeking Medical Attention in Denmark

Navigating healthcare in a new country can often feel overwhelming, even more so when faced with a pressing medical need. Denmark's healthcare system, with its patient-centric approach, aims to make this process as smooth and intuitive as possible.

Type of Medical AttentionKey Points
General Practitioner (GP)Primary point of contact for health concerns.
Booking is usually required.
Always carry your yellow health insurance card.
Emergency CareFor severe conditions, head to the ER.
In life-threatening situations, call 112.
Specialist VisitsReferral from a GP is often required.
Some specialties allow direct booking.
PharmaciesOffer prescription and over-the-counter medicines.
Pharmacists can provide medication guidance.

Here's a guide to seeking medical attention in Denmark, ensuring that you always feel confident in accessing the care you need.

Regular Appointments with General Practitioner (GP)

Your GP is your primary point of contact for most health concerns. They are skilled in diagnosing various ailments, providing treatments, and can direct you to specialists if necessary.

Booking a Visit: To see your GP, it's typically required to book an appointment in advance. This can be done over the phone or, in many cases, online through the clinic's portal.

Carry Your Yellow Card: Always take your yellow health insurance card ("sundhedskort") to the appointment. It ensures that services are billed directly to the public health insurance system.

Emergency Care

In situations that demand immediate medical attention, Denmark is well-equipped to provide swift and efficient emergency care.

Emergency Rooms (ER): For serious injuries or ailments, head directly to the ER of your nearest hospital.

Emergency Numbers: In life-threatening situations, call 112 for immediate assistance. This is the general emergency number, akin to 911 in the U.S., and they will dispatch necessary help, including ambulances.

Specialist Visits

There may be times when you require the expertise of a medical specialist. In most cases, you'll need a referral from your GP.

Referral System: After evaluating your condition, if your GP believes you need specialized care, they will provide a referral. This ensures that the specialist has a clear understanding of your medical history and needs.

Direct Access: For certain specialties, like ophthalmologists or ear, nose, and throat specialists, you might not always need a referral and can book an appointment directly.


If you've been prescribed medication or need over-the-counter remedies, pharmacies are your go-to places.

Prescription Medicines: Upon presenting a valid prescription from your doctor, you can obtain the necessary medication. The cost is often subsidized, and the amount you pay is considerably reduced.

Over-the-Counter: For non-prescription medicines, health supplements, or general health-related advice, pharmacists in Denmark are well-trained and can provide guidance.

Communicating in English in the Danish Healthcare System

Settling into Denmark offers a blend of captivating history, progressive culture, and the minor intricacies of everyday life. One such detail that might be of concern, especially in the realm of healthcare, is the language.

English, widely spoken globally, is also prevalent in Denmark, and its presence in the healthcare system is noteworthy. Here’s a guide to ensure that language isn’t a barrier when seeking medical care.

General Practitioners (GPs) and English Proficiency

Most GPs in Denmark have a commendable grasp of the English language, particularly those in urban and semi-urban areas.

Request in Advance

When booking an appointment, you can express your preference for an English-speaking doctor. Clinics are usually accommodating and will ensure that communication is smooth during your visit.

Hospitals and Specialized Care

Denmark’s top-tier hospitals are equipped not just with state-of-the-art facilities but also with medical professionals who have undergone extensive training, often inclusive of English language proficiency.

Language Services

Larger hospitals often have language services or interpreters available, especially for complex medical discussions. Don’t hesitate to ask for these services if you feel they're needed.


When it comes to understanding medications, clarity is paramount. Thankfully, pharmacists in Denmark are generally well-versed in English.

Medication Instructions: If you're unsure about any medication's instructions or possible side effects, ask your pharmacist. They'll be more than willing to provide guidance in English to ensure your well-being.

Dental and Other Allied Health Services

Whether it's a dental check-up or a visit to the physiotherapist, the prevalence of English is consistent.

Direct Communication: As with GPs, when booking an appointment, specify your preference for English communication. This ensures you're paired with a professional comfortable with the language, making your experience seamless.

Medical Documentation

On occasions when you require medical documents, reports, or certificates in English, most facilities will oblige.

Translation Requests: If an essential document is in Danish, you can request an English translation. While many facilities offer this service, in rare cases where they don't, they can guide you to professional translation services.



Peter Simonsen helps foreigners looking to explore life in Denmark. With a wealth of knowledge about the Danish culture and way of life, Peter helps newcomers adjust and thrive in their new environment.

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